21. The Motorbike

By Peter Fraenkel

Experience of Nazi concentration camps had been painful for several at Akasul. But brief. They had been rounded up after Krystallnacht, the night of the broken glass. They had been shorn, maltreated and starved but most were released after two or three months. The Communists, of course, had suffered longer. They had been arrested much earlier and had been detained for years. Thus Naphtali the Red had missed the Spanish civil war. George Kallenbach, however, had no such political involvement but he had spent almost six years in concentration camps. His crime was Rassenschande – ‘the defilement of the Aryan race’. He had been involved with the beautiful, blond Gretchen. He was a handsome lad, powerfully built. For his 21st birthday his father had given him a powerful motorcycle. The village girls competed to ride pillion behind him. His father was a well-to-do cattle dealer. In his garage he kept a truck to deliver cattle to market. Above was a small flat meant for a driver but since the great inflation Kallenbach senior no longer employed one. Both father and son drove well. Young George commandeered the little flat for his assignations with the beautiful Gretchen…. discreet, unobserved assignations – or so the two of them hoped. Unfortunately George was not alone in his interest in the girl. All the village lads lusted after her but foremost among them was Horst. Poor |Horst – he did not stand much of a chance. He had no motorbike and he was a weedy lad disfigured by pimples. He dreamt of challenging George to a fist fight but he knew he would lose. However, as a he declared to anyone willing to listen, he was ‘pure Aryan’. Perhaps he did not look like the posters in the ‘Brown House’ – tall, blond and muscular – but he had a family tree to prove his descent. As for those pimples, the doctor had assured him he would grow out of them. Even pure Aryans can get pimples. He had documents to show that he had not only the obligatory four Aryan grandparents but even eight great-grand-parents. Yes, he could prove it.

Once the Nazis came to power Horst toyed with the idea of denouncing George to the Gestapo, but he realised that this would ruin his chances with the blond Gretchen. In the end he posted an anonymous letter, written with his left hand. George Kallenbach was arrested a day or two later. He made no attempt to deny his friendship with Gretchen but he denied having ever slept with her. They did not believe him. He was badly beaten by the Brownshirts. In the end he admitted that they had been lovers. He was transported to a concentration camp without a formal trial. There followed several miserable years in a variety of camps. He was only released after his parents had obtained a visa for him and could guarantee that he would leave the country immediately.

He never did retrieve that beautiful motorbike.